Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Pulse Beat

Big Food, Big Pharma: Science Is for Sale

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) had a recent editorial with this title. I have been writing, for many decades, about how big pharma companies dress up and twist medical science to their advantage and we seem to have taken this in our stride. Now, new research says that the big food companies, taking a leaf out of the big pharma manual, have started the same trick to get science to endorse their dangerous sugary foods on the nutrition list! Once they get us hooked on to the ‘healthy foods’ list, they can laugh their way to the banks. The editor writes, and I think she is dead right there:
 
“We have grown accustomed to allegations of conflicts of interest, biased research, and manipulative marketing on the part of the drug industry. Valentine’s Day is a good time to spare a thought for the same problems as they involve the sugar industry. In a BMJ investigation this week Jonathan Gornall examines the not so sweet side of what might be called ‘Big Sugar’: large food companies whose products include sugary foods. Using methods that seem borrowed wholesale from the pharma playbook, they provide consultancies and research support to prominent scientists who also work on nutrition issues for the UK government.” 
It is a double whammy for both the industries in this business. Wrong foods, rich in sugar, encourage type-II diabetes and high blood pressure as well as cardiovascular diseases. 
 

Coconut Oil Can Reduce Blood Pressure

Researchers in Federal University (Brazil) did an elegant prospective study of the effect of coconut oil and exercise on BP in spontaneously hypertensive rats. The reduction in BP in those rats was very significant. Coconut oil has, now, been shown to be a super-food that is good for health and even for the treatment of some illnesses, including Alzheimer’s. Coconut oil was demonised by Americans, since the 1930s, to sell their soy oil and many other unhealthy polyunsaturated fats. When I wrote that coconut oil and mother’s milk are the only two foods that have the same fatty acid base, namely, monolauric acid, people, including my colleagues and students, thought I was mad. Using the name of science you can fool some people for some time, but not all people for all times. Coconut oil is very good food.
 

Computer-generated research papers!

Richard Van Noorden, writing in a recent issue of Nature, says that computer-generated nonsense is being passed off as scientific articles in respected journals: “Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York.” Both publishers privately informed Labbé that they are now removing the papers. In the past few months, editors had to retract more than 120 such papers. Charles Seifei, of Scientific American, investigating fraud in research, came upon a minefield even in leading journals. A whopping six out of 16 studies published in the May 2014 edition of Diagnostic Pathology, which were analysed by Scientific American, were found to be gibberish! Diagnostic Pathology has a very high citation index.

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